Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy
Written By: Arthur Laurents
Staring: Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Paul Wallace, Betty Bruce, Parley Baer, Morgan Brittany, Ann Jillian, and Diane Pace
After three husbands, it takes a lot of butter to get you back in the frying pan. -Rose Hovick
Natalie Wood is irreverent as the famous burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee. My grandparents were actually lucky enough to see Gypsy perform when they were young and what an incredible performer and life force she was. This lively musical shows the hardships, the joys, and what actually influenced her to become the woman she was, but underneath it all was a story about a mother and daughter and the struggles of their relationship.
Rose is incredible and steals the show as often as she possibly can. A stage mom with real panache. Rosalind Russell doesn’t take her so over the top that you hate her. In fact as a viewer you begin to understand why Louise loves her so and seeks her acceptance and attention. She is one of those people that when she shines her light on you the worldcouldn’t be more wondrous and exciting, but when she turns away it leaves you cold and empty. Louise’s desire to be in her mothers light is the driving force behind her mothers desire to be part of something famous and successful.
Karl Walden was the “man” of the story. I was amused how often they acknowledged that fact, but he really grounded Russell’s extreme behavior, and it felt like he held the group together, while also being so damn sweet and likable. His character could have come off as desperate orwishy washy, but he just seemed to be a man genuinely in love with not only Rose and her energy and passion, but her makeshift family.
The music is great and the shows are exciting. It’s an old school musical that felt like it had natural transitions into the songs. The ones that were onstage performances were thankfully shown as full performances without any gimmicks, just real acts that we get to see the simple enjoyment of what a stage show really looks like.
At times the story does feel drawn out and as incredible as Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell is, Russell’s pushy nature and constant pushiness can start to wear on you. It does prove why some of the people eventually leave her. It must have been exhausting to tolerate her crazed aspirations to become a star, because it’s exhausting just watching her and hearing about her “dreams”.
What Gypsy really breaks down to is a mother/daughter story and the struggle for the mothers acceptance. Rose puts her own hopes and dreams onto her kids and their troupe since her own dreams failed. While it is selfish at times, she genuinely loves the kids and her affection is true even though the show is clearly her first love. With theback-story of Gypsy Rose Lee, great songs, and an overall good movie.
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